An Analysis of the Business Environment of Hong Kong Disneyland Chan Bo Yee, Bowie BSc student HTMi Switzerland

Abstract Hong Kong was an obvious destination for the fifth Disneyland, however, HKDL fails to reach its target visitors after its grand opening. This paper investigates the cause of HKDL‟s underperformance and examines the proposal that its main threat is its business environment. The paper analyses HKDL‟s business environment, emphasising the marketing, social and economic conditions within which it operates, and uses Porter‟s five forces model to gain insight into the issues HKDL must address. The analysis reveals that the underperformance of HKDL and its failure to gain competitive advantage is largely due to poor management and a failure to embrace the importance of corporate social responsibility planning in building up customer loyalty. Although HKDL used France Disneyland as its learning standard, its management has only focused on risk patterns rather than appraisal and learning about potential chance and risk.
Introduction

“The dawn of the theme park industry rose from one man‟s dream, Walt Disney. Today the sun never sets on Disney‟s global theme park landscape,” as proudly announced by Michael Eisner (Disney chief executive) during Disneyland‟s 50th anniversary celebrations (Traveltrade, 2005). Eisner planned to realise his vision by locating the fifth Disney Park in Asia. Among the choices between Hong Kong, Shanghai and India, the business environment in Hong Kong seemed to be a viable choice (Horner and Swarbrooke, 2004). Being a leading destination in Asia, Hong Kong has good infrastructures, highly skilled labour and steadily increasing annual tourist arrivals. According to Mainelli and Yeandle (2007), Hong Kong is a leading destination in Asia and many people anticipated that Disney would perform well and also move forward Hong Kong‟s economy. Unfortunately, Eisner failed to fulfil his vision in Hong Kong. During the pre-opening time, Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) was not able to fulfil guests‟ expectations. There was much negative feedback before HKDL‟s grand opening and HKDL failed to reach target numbers of guest arrivals in the first year (HKDL, 2006). On the other hand, the

Prior to opening in China. Disney had attempted entry into the growing Chinese market (Kolter & Armstrong. by the creation of a Disney character based on the Chinese traditional legend. Errors made. France. firstly. HKDL had its grand opening. Disney is almost certainly not relying on luck to keep it successful. HKDL‟s new entrance was shifted 12 degrees after consulting a Chinese FengShui master who said it will maximise prosperity for the park. a potential entrant (Shanghai Disneyland). Horner and Nield. secondly. banned alcohol in the park in the world‟s largest wine consumption country. but in these moves is showing the local community respect. for example.000 visitors per day. After the chaos this created in Paris. Nevertheless. HKDL introduced a series of restaurants. 2005). Disney loses some competitive advantage because the prices at its . The aim of this paper is to explore the competitiveness of HKDL by analysing its macroenvironment and using Porter‟s five forces model (Porter. by preparing the population for the entry of Disney and enabling their identification with Disney characters and concepts. and substitutes (Hong Kong‟s entertainment industry) that produced a hard rival environment. This is one of the unique selling points of HKDL and designed to attract the Chinese market and create a win-win situation. Mulan. making it the smallest Disneyland. HKDL took steps to avoid the cultural clashes which happened in France. and later by giving Mickey and Minnie Mouse Chinese costumes designed by the famous Hong Kong designer Vivienne Tam.incentive business environment of HKDL is very competitive due to the threats from direct competitors (Ocean Park). 2006). both were based on FengShui (Ball. Disney learned lessons and tried to avoid the same mistakes. Aspects of culture were taken on board at HKDL in determining the resort design and opening date. 1980) to explore how it can sustain competitive advantage On 12th September 2005. The maximum capacity of the park is 34. These competitors threaten the viability of HKDL. so tea and dim sum are not enough. with only five themed parks while other Disneylands have at least six (The Standard. Euro Disneyland failed to incorporate European eating habits and. Unfortunately. Hong Kong is known as a food paradise. were also avoided. these efforts cannot recover the damage done by a poor reputation. For instance. and the walkway between the train station and gate are bent in order to avoid the positive energy slipping past the entrance and out to the China Sea (Holson. with the Disneyland Paris food and beverage services. 2007). Thus. 2005). where people can easily enjoy different cuisine. by the publication of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck books in Mandarin. initially.

the government invested HKD 22. 2007). especially traditional cuisine (Cousins. which will also serve as an irrigation reservoir (HKSAR. business and strategic planning (Kolter. a fire ambulance station. there is an impression that theme park‟s restaurants do not offer good cuisine. 2002). regulation of the business sector and government spending can directly affect marketing decisions by setting the rules by which the business can be conducted (Jobber. Foskett & Gillespie. According to the official HKSAR website. HKDL faces many threats. 2007).restaurants are relatively higher than at local higher-middle class restaurants. if the trend of theme parks declines in 20 years. Also. the lease of 50 years might become a risk. Disneyland admitted that the park had only attracted 4 million visitors in the year 2006-2007. For instance. Disney has the option for 20 years to buy a site nearby in order to have further development. 2006) Organisations need to be aware of environmental changes in order to do forecasting. Nevertheless. Also. the number of . thus they scan the environment for market information about trends and competitive intelligence. and the rights to renew the lease for a further 50 years. 2005). They also provided the site near the new airport in Penny Bay ton a 50year lease at reasonable terms. The microenvironment concerns the internal factors affecting the company whereas the macro-environment concerns the external factors that can affect the microenvironment during product development. it provided an excellent deal for Disney. 1999). it may burden HKDL so that it becomes inflexible towards change. Further major infrastructure works included supplementary transportation links via two public ferry piers and transport interchanges. The marketing environment Marketing environments consist of the microenvironment and the macroenvironment. this represented a fall of 23 percent compared to the first year attendance figures (Bloomberg. Political factors such as defence. As the Hong Kong Government (HKSAR) wanted to have this project. Bowen and Makens. In addition they offered a connection to the railway network provided by the Mass Transit Railway and access via new road systems. drainage and sewage works. Thus HKDL was provided with sufficient infrastructure to build an accessible theme park. Firstly. police posts. With a lease contract over this lengthy time.45 billion (HKSAR. a special feature of the site is a water recreation centre including a large lake. In December 2007. Also. legislation.

For example. therefore a theme park may not be the best choice for this. which necessitated the destruction of coral and coastline. the Individual visit scheme (IVS) was first introduced in July 2003 with the aim of attracting tourists from southern China to Hong Kong (Yearbook. When this dominant member is missing. low fertility rates and increasing life expectancy. which together with the noise and smoke pollution caused by daily fireworks led to environmentalist protests and negative consumer perceptions about HKDL. This can be shown through the elderly health care voucher pilot scheme and “TsimShaTusi District Elderly Service” (Hong Kong: the Bureau. It will not only decrease the number of the whole target market. Hong Kong has benefits from both business industry and tourism. not only through financial support. Hong Kong has an aging population. Leigh (2006) has pointed out that if this trend continues.guests will decrease as well. Due to parents‟ preoccupation to keep their children happy (Swarbrooke & Horner. a free trade agreement with mainland China. therefore the Hong Kong government might lose the ability to support HKDL which will still be burdened with the long-term lease agreement. 2008). Hong Kong‟s old-age dependency ratio will exceed other Asian countries in 2030. this target market will become smaller due to a declining birth rate. At the same time. tourist arrivals have increased steadily with tourist arrivals doubling between 2002 and 2007. Since the introduction of the IVS. . Meanwhile. Hong Kong government had put a lot of effort in health care. The demographic environment is one of the key elements of the macroenvironment. With the current trend of aging population. According to Swarbrooke & Horner (2007). but also to provide different services. children will be the dominant members to make decisions about a destination. Disney‟s main target markets are children and teenagers. HKDL could have difficulties in changing their strategy or moving out Hong Kong because of this fixed long-term agreement. the main motivator of adults is usually to relax. negatively affecting the revenue. parents no longer have these responsibilities. aging populations increase healthcare costs. Therefore. 2007). whom they could possibly benefit from if they started to build up awareness or loyalty from these groups. IVS has presented an increased potential number of guest visits to HKDL. but also the individual family members. HKDL sits on land that the government reclaimed from the sea. On the other hand. 2008). 2005). With the support of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. Moreover. (Einhorn.

Even though HKDL‟s entrance fee is the lowest among its partners (Zeimer. Hong Kong has ranked number one on the „The Global Financial Centres Index‟ for 14 consecutive years. Hong Kong is substantially a stable economic environment. 2002). On the other hand. and the introduction of the IVS has increased the numbers visiting HKDL. but it may nevertheless be a wise choice. Thus. now a member of the World Trade Organisation (Lin. for example HSBC and GE Capital. HKDL has not tried to attract the lower-middle class in this promotion and hence may lose in short-term revenue. Hong Kong was faced with the disease of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003.The Economic Environment Being one of the leading finance centres in the world (Mainelli and Yeandle. 2008. who signed off a free trade agreement. Nevertheless. 2005). most probably will save their money instead of spending it to have fun. According to Pine and Mckercher (2004). The target market is obviously middle-higher class citizens. Hong Kong faced a huge challenge in 1998 in the Asian financial crisis. In 2009. 2009). Nevertheless. In order to try and build up visitor numbers. . 2009). Both local and International companies in Hong Kong. which in turn may affect the viability of HKDL. Hong Kong has successfully recovered. SARS had the largest negative effect on Hong Kong‟s GDP. It aimed to add value of the visit by paying extra for a customised service. This has totally affected Hong Kong‟s local economy and following this trend. between mainland China and Hong Kong. Luckily. another economic crisis has bought the worldwide economic downturn. have laid off their employees (Singtao. unemployment rates will increase steadily and the purchasing power of citizens will be lower. the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. 2009). this product-based sales promotion is transacting through its official website since February 2009 (HKDL. Mingpao. Hong Kong has a strong economic environment and can afford to support HKDL‟s development. GE Capital decided to withdraw from Hong Kong and layoff 50% of their employees (Mingpao. it is still relatively expensive and middle-lower class citizens who are facing the risk of unemployment. According to Holmes. HKDL has recently released a new promotion called “Star Guest Program”. 2007). which actually strengthened the competitiveness of Hong Kong exports. Also. Feulner and Grady (2008). Hong Kong recovered quickly with the backing of China. the Hong Kong government (2003) cited that the consumer price index throughout this incident decreased.

During the economic crisis. among 15. 2006).1% of the population speak it as a first language and 34.In the long term. HKDL will not suffer with the problem of lack of skilled labour supply and many management positions will be required in the theme park. Also. with 97. the average annual population growth rate was 0. the value might not cause a difference for those who do not participate in this promotion.000 staff found that 63 per cent were unhappy with . According to competitive analysis model. Ciao! Bmch. it might cause HKDL a decrease in revenue because its direct competitor Ocean Park‟s (OP) entrance fee is 25% lower than HKDL. It has left a great opportunity for OP in that it has enabled them to have buzz marketing while different forums have highly recommended OP (Trip Advisor. For instance. Unfortunately. HKDL can provide an image of a place for celebration instead of a theme park. On the other hand. the “Star Guest Program” has increased both price and value. In addition. This “Star Guest” campaign provides a different customised service. HKDL did not utilize this advantage. The Social Environment English is one the official languages in Hong Kong. this is a marketing campaign to build its brand‟s equity. Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions received 20 complaints from Disney‟s staff regarding the ignorance of staff health needs along with other problems (The Standard.4% population in Hong Kong are degree holders (The 2006 Census.864. By this promotion. With all these facts. a survey conducted by the Disney Cast Members Union among 470 of the 5. This image is very important for future product and market development.1% literacy in 2006 (The 2006 Census. Nevertheless.9% as a second language. citizens become more price conscious.com. and presents a significant opportunity by seeking to maintain a high social status. 2009. Furthermore. However. About. Around 3. 2009. the visitor can type in a name and automatically see a video with their name on HKDL‟s famous site and an audio saying that “the entire park is being transformed and will be dedicated to one special VIP” (Hong Kong Disneyland. 2005). applying an integrated online sales promotion could minimise the distribution costs thereby attracting a wider audience (Brassington & Pettitt.4% 6. 2009). 2009). Prior to the grand opening. 2003). for the lower-middle class who cannot afford the entrance fee. the higher social status might enhance the willingness of visiting the park through making accessible things they could usually not afford. 2006). Also.346 citizens.

First. 2007). long hours and unfair treatment at the park like staff that wear Mickey Mouse costumes earning higher pay than those wearing Donald Duck costumes (Shenzhen Daily. 2008) Therefore. Muslim and Jewish. working conditions. HKDL has de-motivated its staff and hence have lessened employee morale. (CIA. for instance. Its focus on revenue has distracted attention from its social responsibilities. Staff are the most important element in any organization. complaining largely of unequal treatment and what they see as unfair work distribution (Parry. 2008. District councillors accused Disney officials of discrimination for refusing to switch to the more environmentally friendly fireworks technology they used in California (Ibid). Christmas. avoiding discrimination and taking community action (Thompson and Martin. Secondly. belief. religion and custom have also affected HKDL in their management decision-making. honesty. The Standard. CSR is the element which makes the business grow. Hong Kong has many different festivals. CSR covers different responsibilities including product safety. All these relate to the poor corporate social responsibility (CSR) planning. Wheelen and Hunger (2006) argue that private corporations have responsibilities to society that extend beyond making profit and. HKDL understands the importance of cultural differences and has attempted to avoid the problem of a cultural backlash such as experienced by Disneyland Resort Paris. Most are Buddhist with a minority of Christian. These special occasions provide many opportunities to create unforgettable events and attract worldwide attention. Disneyland had put a lot of effort to embody both American and Chinese cultures. Instead of planting American culture in Hong Kong. 2005). Green groups asked the park to change their resort‟s wedding menu to take off shark‟s fin soup (Ibid). In the service industry. Apart from the size and structure of the population. further. Easter. Unfortunately. Besides destroying the magic it has also resulted in a bad press reputation. through the following issues: A case of food poisoning broke out in a park restaurant (Eimer. which in turn leads to decreased employee performance and poor organisational performance. employees are involved in the service delivery that directly affects guests‟ experience. 2005). The bad reputation of HKDL arose amongst others. values. 2005). which raises the question of whether . Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival. Local unionists attacked the poor working conditions.management. Hong Kong‟s population has a mix of religions. HKDL has failed to achieve appropriate CSR. avoiding pollution.

On the other hand. are one-off purchases. 1980). (3) suppliers: those who provide the materials and other stocks for the business. Its microenvironment will be examined using Porter‟s five forces model (Porter. the bargaining power of buyer is determined by the concentration of buyers and how much customers can impose pressure on volumes and margins. most of the major things bought. the threats from buyers are relatively low. The suppliers that affect daily operation are food and beverage. however nowadays the dynamic of the industry has changed and is more complicated. for example the rides and buildings. 2006). The five forces model Thus HKDL has a favourable macro-environment. fireworks and office equipment suppliers. However. 2005). . In the case of a theme park. their customers have relatively low bargaining power because the theme park is differentiated in its industry. Sims & Gabriel. These important elements are not incorporated in the model. with multiple interrelations. Wheelen & Hunger (2006) argue that the stronger these forces. product groups and by-products (Mullins. The aim of analysing suppliers in Porter‟s model is to determine the bargaining power of the supplier and the extent to which the company must rely on an individual supplier. organisations can develop new strategies to improve their own competitive position. In the case of HKDL. All these are replaceable and will not directly affected HKDL‟s competitive advantage.CSR is solely the responsibility of the private company or whether government should also have a role. segments. This model seeks to measure the competitiveness of a company by reference to five forces: (1) direct competitors: those companies that offer same product or service as your company. the more limited an organisation‟s ability to raise prices and earn greater profit. Applying Porter‟s five forces can lead to knowledge of the intensity and power of each force by systematically analysing its market‟s structure and the competitive situation. Its validity is criticised since it was developed in the early 1980s when cyclical growth characterised the global economy. it focused on profitability and survival at a time when most industries were fairly stable and predictable (Fineman. The model‟s meaningfulness may be reduced because it assumes a perfect market with a simple market structure. (5) potential entrants: new companies entering the industry. Therefore. (2) buyers: the customers who can have varying degrees of power. Thereby. (4) substitutes: others who provide similar products or services. Therefore. there are some limitations to Porter‟s model.

due to open in 2012 in Shanghai. HKDL faces a same brand competitor within Asia. for example. only a one hour flight away from HKDL. accessibility and the enhanced scope of Shanghai. OP also operates observatories. In these activities. Chinese citizens may opt for the convenience. with the poor reputation of HKDL. Thus. thus from the point of view of the purchasing power for teenagers. OP also features a panda exhibit. Being a cosmopolitan city. shopping and nightlife. With the opening of Shanghai Disneyland. OP has also organized different campaigns to demonstrate their social responsibility. well-developed laboratories. the greatest threat from a potential new entrant comes from the proposals for a third Disneyland in Asia. In its first and second years HKDL failed to attract its target customer numbers (Sinn. This new Disney Park will be eight times larger than HKDL (Subler. an education department and a Whales and Dolphins Fund with the aim of saving the environment (Ocean Park. The entrance fee for Shanghai is not yet released and will be critical to HKSL‟s future. The direct competitor of HKDL is the people‟s amusement park. hence after the Shanghai Disneyland opens.Therefore. a four-story aquarium displaying different species of fish. However. In addition. clubs and bars offered a range of . potential entrants and substitutes to analyse the business environment of Disneyland. 2008). the number of HKDL‟s customers may well decrease gradually. “Championing the Green Olympics”. there will be three Disneys in Asia competing for the same market. The low product differentiation caused by the standardised service and products will directly affect HKDL‟s revenue as a major market for HKDL is China. including dining. For example HKDL organized “Disney's Haunted Halloween” while in Lan Kwai Fong (one of the popular and well known areas for a night out in Hong Kong) restaurants. 2008). Ocean Park (OP). Hong Kong offers different entertainment activities. The substitutes affecting the competitiveness of HKDL are the leisure and retail industries. jellyfish and shark aquarium. however this is likely to be cheaper than HKDL as fees for each Disneyland are adjusted in line with local‟s purchasing power. most of them will prefer OP. During different festivals. HKDL‟s entry fee is almost US$24 more than for OP. thus leading to a significant loss of target market and subsequent drop in revenue for HKDL. the focus now shifts to industry competitors. instead of rides. all of these substitutes will organize various events. “No Straw Day Campaign” and “International Day of Disabled Persons”. OP has demonstrated greater CSR effort than HKDL and thus OP has a healthier business and draws more attention from the public. 2007) and does not appear to be strong enough to attract different customers.

a proper reward system should be implemented to increase motivation. In order to return the magic back to Disney. Conclusions HKDL has a favourable macro-environment which could help the park in different areas. These offered choices for different types of Halloween celebrations. Also. A good working environment should be provided and flexibility built into working practices. in order give back to society. this will directly relate to HKDL‟s CSR planning as CSR directly affects the image of the company. Further. its strong substitutes have directly threatened HKDL visitor numbers and the poor branding lead by inadequate corporate social responsibility arrangements. employer branding can also attract and retain human capital. Also. staff are the best sales force and must be well managed otherwise employee morale is threatened. In order to recover and build up a strong intellectual capital. However. These indicate ineffective management planning and poor strategic development. it has to add in more effort from management. lack of unique selling point and poor HR management have directly decreased HKDL‟s attractiveness and competitiveness. HKDL does not have outstanding products to help compete with its direct competitor and retain guest loyalty. First of all. It is important to increase employees‟ relationships in order to ensure they share the same values as HKDL and provide the best visitor experience. The microenvironment analysed by Porter‟s five forces has revealed that HKDL has a competitive environment. HKDL should learn from this and not underestimate the potential power of substitutes and HKDL must strengthen its brand. Thus. for example. with the potential entrance of Shanghai Disneyland. In order to increase transparency and enhance the connection of Hong Kongers to HKDL more environmentally friendly campaigns and customer involvement with. the festivals in theme park were no longer unique or special.events. recycling should be introduced. . Moreover. For example. there has been insufficient crisis management planning and it has failed to build a good employer brand to attract quality labour. failed to turn the risk of the changing demographic sector into an advantage. HKDL has only dealt with its external environment rather than utilised it. the lack of bargaining power with government that lead to HKDL‟s flexibility. HKDL will lose a certain part of its market share after Shanghai‟s grand opening. However. HKDL should offer help to organize activities for the minority. These actions will gain society awareness and enhance HKDL‟s positive image.

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